Malaysian Civil Service: Can they think, raise the right issues, and do things right?

May 20, 2016

Malaysian Civil Service: Can they think, raise the right issues, and do things right?

No one of substance in government is bold enough to raise the right issues as most prefer wallowing in self-consolation hoping things will eventually self-correct.

by TK Chua

There is a management thought that says we must be honest and bold enough to raise the right issues or to ask the right questions. If we do not have the right questions, it does not matter much that we have the right answers. Right answers to wrong questions are useless.

1MDB is Malaysia’s Najib-inspired Blue Ocean Strategy Bull

Today, Malaysia is reeling from the reality that no one of any substance in government is bold enough to raise the right issues or ask the right questions as most prefer wallowing in self-consolation, hoping things will eventually self-correct. Rarely do they rock the boat and challenge the established paradigm. Instead, they pretend to support every phoney reform undertaken – from Pemandu, BR1M, BRAM, BROOM, NBOS  Initiatives (watch video above), to GST and all the baloney that takes place in GLCs (e.g. 1MBD).

Malaysia’s Top Civil Servant with his Brains Trust

We know from history it is never easy to reform a system or a country from within. The death of the Qing dynasty and the French Revolution convey the same story – failed reforms.

People in power usually cannot see it or refuse to see it. They become insensitive and insular to the needs of others. Hence, while many in the country are struggling to get by, the ruling elite shamelessly and effortlessly indulge in obscene extravagance even for a simple event like a birthday or wedding celebration. We used to laugh at Marie Antoinette’s infamous “let them eat cake” joke, but I don’t think we have ever learnt anything worthwhile from it.

Why do I say we are addressing the wrong issues? Let me list a few examples:

i. We use the GST to perpetuate our wasteful ways, not instill financial discipline and prudence in the public sector. The GST, therefore, will not solve our fiscal unsustainability problems. It will not help stabilise and strengthen the ringgit. It will only reinforce the government’s spendthrift ways.

ii. Pemandu did not transform the government machinery.Like any bureaucracy, it only added more outfits and programmes to it and drains  our national coffers. Therefore, it will only incur more expenses but with no efficiency gained.

iii. National development is not about issuing bonds or raising debts, setting up giant corporations and listing GLCs that the earlier generations have taken decades to nurture and build. Why are we indulging in buying, investing, selling, restructuring, paying off debts, and renegotiating with “partners” endlessly? Why instead of creating value, are we moving from one protracted problem to another? This is worse than children playing the game of monopoly.

iv. Foreign workers are supposed to come here to supplement our needs, not dictate the “production function” of this country. Now we have Malaysians leaving the country in droves while foreigners are allowed indiscriminate entry. In the process, our value chain goes down the drain and our way of life turns upside down.

v. We keep saying the future of this country is in the hands of the young. But what future have we created for them – an increasing pool of unemployed and unemployable graduates?

vi. We were told to be magnanimous and live in harmony, but every day we are reminded of protests over altars here, tokongs there and the general lack of piousness everywhere. If we are so godly, why are we so filthy and depraved? Why are we experiencing mass food poisoning so often? Why are our children so prone to mass hysteria? Why are our women subjected to snatch theft, attempted rape and rape so often? I know what you are thinking – when compared to other countries, Malaysia is not so bad. Maybe that is why some say we are good in jumping on the spot.

vii. Our idea of multiculturalism is when one marries a spouse of a different race or religion. Our racial tolerance is to adopt a son or daughter from another race or foster a child of another race. Our idea of inclusiveness is to produce a video portraying groups of different racial backgrounds dancing or singing together for a GLC’s advertisement or a national event. However, in our daily life, we don’t care whether our policies are fair and just.

When push comes to shove, we just hoist our flag of race and religious supremacy. We just need to divert blame onto others – and cry out at how others have tried to sabotage and undermine our vital interests; how we must be ever vigilant to keep them in the box.

I think it is enough for now. You may add on to the list if you want.*

*There is no need to add to Mr. Chua’s list. We must take the blame because we continue to allow an incompetent UMNO-BN government led by the corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak to operate. We are indifferent and do not have the guts to sack the Prime Minister and his cabal who are in charge of our national coffers. To make matters worse, we have  a political opposition which will do the same if they are given the opportunity, that is, they can be equally arrogant and corrupt. We are already a failed state.

Only a failed people will want the status quo. So, our voters will allow  UMNO-BN to win the forthcoming by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungei Besar like they did in Sarawak recently. We deserve the government we get. –Din Merican

22 thoughts on “Malaysian Civil Service: Can they think, raise the right issues, and do things right?

  1. It is time for some whom I got to know inside Pemandu to go beyond existig system to be proponent of a working system.

    Now is the time to dream big, as we even notice that those who are hanging onto the core wants a safe way out. Just recall what all of the 1MDB ex CEO is saying and not saying.

    Dato Din is right. PKR has reached its limit. DAP has yet to learn to grow beyond Lim family. Alternates can only comes from individuals doing small things right.

    What is the right question? No on Najib, Free Anwar, Implement Hudud or being mad at PAS, hanging to Adenan, Stop GST, yes or no on TPP, hug US, embrace China’s Red Flag, are neither answers nor questions. We all know it.

    Brave New World. Now is the time to speak up.

    My question is poisoned with one obsession. It is both the answer and the question.

    “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat”

    Answer to the above is expected to be many. But, question is the same. How can we work together to make that happen?

  2. Civil Service do the right thing? LOL. Hadi Awang and his PAS, including all those revered Ulamas they have, KNOWS Najib is guilty and worst immoral by their own standards. YET they support him, pretending they are not with false indignation. Why? The end justify the means no matter how despicable the means as Najib destroy the govt and society.

    AND the leading item on this hypocrisy of Hadi’s PAS is Hudud, which is a nightmare to do even if it’s remotely possible to execute. These people want to do a nightmare program, when from the start they compromise so much to do? It’s simply INSANITY. These are simply INCOMPETENT PEOPLE in modern governance and management.

    Hadi’s PAS is simply a party UNQUALIFIED to govern. Forget even their ideology.

  3. Our civil service may be the product of a biased education policy where everything is perceived to be biased towards one group and then within that group to that which is connected to the leadership.
    The main criteria for appointment are observed/perceived to be based on paper qualifications with most of those holding posts having not having qualifications relevant to the core responsibilities of the posts.
    Civil service promotions are perceived to be based not on merit but more on connections and pleasing the ‘bosses’. It is common knowledge and perception that those who work will make mistakes which will never be forgotten and act against advancement in career whereas those who do nothing get excellent performance reports and thus promotions. The promotions then follow until the person reaches his/her LEVEL OF INCOMPETENCY but cannot be demoted and this is line with the PETER’S PRINCIPLE WHERE EVERY ONE ADVANCES UNTIL THE LEVEL OF INCOMPETENCY IS REACHED. Those at the very top then are given authority over large funds to be approved for Projects/Contracts and Procurements and Programmes of which many may have little or no expertise and thus may have blind trust on Consultants whose expertise may also be suspect but may have connections.

    MALAYSIA MAY HAVE THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF CIVIL SERVANTS PER CITIZENS but the quality may not be anything to be proud of. And with so many public holidays, annual leave, maternity/paternity leave and other leaves it is a miracle that our civil service still functions.

    THERE MAY BE LITTLE INCENTIVE IN CIVIL SERVICE TO PROVIDE QUALITY SERVICE as remuneration packages are based on post held and in most cases nothing to do with merit or deserving when it is common perception that only a small percentage may deserve. This may be referred to as ‘bribery’ of civil service.


  4. Top Civil Servants BRAINS are totally rusted and this is the result of not having any new input to improve our Civil Service. Their brains may work much more efficient where there is money for new infrastructures because such contracts can make them have the side kicks with pockets full of rye. This is a contagious disease which spreads from top to the bottom line.

    Incompetency is at its peak in our Civil service. They have more time in office to chit chat and gossip while using mobile phones to read FB, Whats app, SMS and all other nonsense at the expanse of tax payers money. Who is there to control them. The bosses themselves busy attending meetings with nasi lemak and kuih muih till the lunch time and return to office to see if there were any letters to sign and go back home to have nap at home.

  5. ‘Only a failed people will want the status quo.’ Din

    Actually, it’s much worse than this. It’s not status quo – it’s downright resistance, INERTIA, followed by Gostanism.

    Nothing works as it should – they simply dream of making a fast buck and additional rent seeking schemes. They add in more and more clauses, requirements and all sorts of paper work for ‘bureaucratic’ nonsense so that those useless graduates have something to work on in order to achieve their KPIs etc.

    Legalese tak cukup, now tambah plenty of ‘conditions’ for this and that – until everything just jams up – like our tolled roads and highways.
    I am talking about “we the people”, not those in power. Those in power are hopeless long ago. –Din Merican

  6. The basis of my observations is mainly based on the AUD-GEN’s reported cases of suggested MISMANAGEMENT-FRAUD-CORRUPTION-BRIBERY-KICKBACKS which have been ongoing for over three decades and increasing in quantum and numbers with little improvement. Cost of living is rising especially for food and natural resources being illegally plundered and income variances between rich and poor widening..
    Current policies may result with little to be inherited by next generation with non-marketable degrees and no jobs with millions of unskilled foreigners providing defective services and infrastructures.


  7. The much-vaunted PTD service is nothing more than a collection of connected event- managers. They prefer to strut around ensuring that style is maintained, the right bags are carried and bowing to the required depth. Ask them about substance and promoting national agendas and their eyes glaze over. They prefer to hang around outside meeting rooms than sitting inside and discussing issues that matter. At any international meeting the largest delegation is the Bolehland one, three of them when only one will suffice.
    I challenge Ali, Siregar or any one of their ilk to deny if any of the above is not true.
    As for the lower-level minions, the education DG stressing on learning to cheer their political masters leaders, or the immigration chief insisting that a passport is a privilege, are glaring examples of the level of intelligence and sense of priorities that wash in the corridors of bolehland’s government corridors.
    Any yet they insist on higher pay and perks and that the people bow in their presence.

    • ‘You have have to understand what is money. It has different names.’

      Some additional definitions of METHODS:

      When taken under false pretenses it is CHEATING
      when taken by wrong means it is FRAUD
      When given for a favor or benefit it is CORRUPTION
      when given to cover up a wrongdoing or seek a favor it is BRIBE
      When given to a Religious Institution or Place it is OFFERING
      When given to an organizations/individual doing social service it is DONATION

      THEN IT IS ‘ASSISTANCE’ though it may be CORRUPTION.

  8. You have have to understand what is money. It has different names.
    In the work place it is wages
    In school it is fees.
    In divorce it is alimony.
    When you owe someone it is debt
    When you pay government it is tax
    To children it is an allowance
    To kidnappers it is ransom
    When you borrow it is a loan
    When you give to charity it is alms.

    If this is undersood you can never go wrong and you will do the right thing all the time.

  9. Assalammualaikum, Bigjoe99, apologies, I beg to differ. Immoral is a person who does not conform to morality. Amoral is a person bereft of any morality. Jibby and his cahoots qualify for the later one.

  10. The British left us with one of the best Administrative system when they left and gave us independence in 1957. The Administrative Government is different and removed from the Political Party that forms the government. Political parties and politicians come and go but the Administrative Government stays throughout changes in the government.
    The FEO or Federal Establishment Office led by the Chief Secretary and the Public Services Commission (not to be confused with the Public Services Department) was responsible for the appointment of every civil servant from Div. I to Div. III right down to the lowly clerk. All vacancies in the government departments are advertised in the local papers and government gazette. Candidates are interviewee by the PSC and offers and letters of appointment are made by the PSC. All promotion exercises also follow the same procedures.
    The Chief Secretary to the government is one very independent person and won’t now to the politicians. Same goes with the Public Services Commission.

    All these ended when one so called KSN decided to kow tow to politicians and soon the rot in the civil service went full scale. Remember Ahmad Sarji. Today the civil service is almost an extension of the ruling political party. So when state government changes the state civil service were resistant to their new political masters and even resulted in acts of sabotage.

  11. With all his faults, Lee Kuan Yew was one farsighted bastard as far as the Singapore Civil Service goes.

    Oh, wait a minute, wasn’t it said somewhere that probably at least 35% of Singapore’s present crop of civil servants were ex-Malaysians and most of these ex-Malaysians were ASEAN scholars meaning Malaysia’s best and brightest.

    You reap what you sow. So stop complaining unless you think we can get water out of stones.

    Reminds me of “GIGO” in the early days of the computer revolution. Don’t know? Don’t be lazy, look it up.

  12. GIGO or GIGOLO, Wayne ?? 🙂

    The latter term may apply if some are in cahoots with the thieves and robbers presently running our country into the ground.

  13. /// TL Man May 29, 2016 at 8:00 am
    Right and wrong is relative. More right and wrongs you will have more relatives ///

    If you committed more wrongs, you will have more relatives, and most of them are illegitimate.

  14. /// TL Man May 29, 2016 at 4:05 pm
    You have have to understand what is money. It has different names.
    In the work place it is wages
    In school it is fees.
    In divorce it is alimony.
    When you owe someone it is debt
    When you pay government it is tax
    To children it is an allowance
    To kidnappers it is ransom
    When you borrow it is a loan
    When you give to charity it is alms. ///

    When it inexplicably appears in your private banking personal account, it is donation.

  15. Gone were the days when the civil servants can think and act within the ambit of their jurisdiction, people like Ishak Tadin, Hassan Ibrahim, Harun Hashim, Tun Suffian, Hashim Yeop Sani, Tan Sri Ahmad Perang and several others.
    Sadly today the civil servants are ‘saya yang menurut perintah” I.e. Perintah KSN< KSU, KP, Pak Pak Menteri and MP's.

    • From personal experience I think you meant AY YB Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin who was replaced by Ishak Tadin by the then PM after AY YB made public his findings on the Bank Bumi Scandal with the justification that AY YB’s term of service had expired though this reason was contested by many at that time.

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